Friday, December 29, 2006

Gerald Ford: The man who gave America the NeoCons

It contradicts the Rules of common usage to point out the failings of those who have taken that last step from human society into death but reading the many articles on the life of Gerald Ford brought for me, at least, the consciousness of how much he and those in politics have cost all of us; seeing him characterized as 'a man of character,' slapped me into awareness. The rules are wrong when they benefit deceit and injustice, so I am going to ignore them.

As Republican woman and an American I have something to say about Ford, and politics today. The legacy of Gerald Ford is the destruction the vision of America as a place where our inherent, individual rights, were protected and affirmed through a government which remained in the hands of the people. Those rights depend on justice. Ford destroyed the integrity of our political system. He made a choice and it was wrong.

In saying this I do nor forget that he championed the passage of the Alice Paul Amendment to affirm to women their equal rights. He spoke the words, introduced the bill, and failed to see it passed. At death we remember the whole of the life of the deceased, not just those parts that are useful to us politically. All of the acts of Ford's life, the good and the bad together, should be assessed. Death is a summing up of life; a summing up that ignores that whole does a disservice to the deceased and to us as well.

The choice Ford made to pardon Richard M. Nixon set the stage for the excruciating events that put Bush in the White House and have gone so far down the road to destroying America, no matter how affable he was, this cannot be overlooked.

Nixon should have been tried. He was guilty and Americans needed to see their system work as intended. Instead, we have learned not to expect honesty or decency; our system has devolved into a morass that nurtures thieves and scoundrels. We today contend with a political reality that has served to elevate those in positions of 'public service' into a class apart, guaranteeing membership in a club of privilege, an aristocracy without accountability. With those in politics accountability is anathema. Watch how they vote and for whom, it is your rights they are selling piecemeal.

Because of Gerald Ford justice was not done. Everyone in politics, a young Rove, an older Bush Senior, the clueless W, all who were then moving themselves up in government learned the lesson by example. Bush and the NeoConservatives who have been living out their fantasies at our expense saw the opportunity created by the misuse of presidential power by Gerald Ford. They are relying on that power today. They have enough money stolen from us to buy anyone they make president, with few exceptions. Bush expects to cut a deal, walking away with his profits intact.

What we see today is not the vision of America for which patriots have laid down their lives over the last two centuries. It is a congame with us, the American people, cast as the patsies.

Today, the American people hunger for justice and the likelihood they will get that, accountability from those entrusted with power, recedes into the distant haze because of the actions of Gerald Ford, whose death comes like manna from heaven for the Bush Administration at this point in time.

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush on Wednesday remembered former President Gerald Ford as a "man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts" and helped restore faith in the presidency after the Watergate scandal.”

It is easy to see why someone like George W. Bush would carefully laud the life of a man who took from Americans what was so desperately needed; accountability for the crimes of Richard Nixon translates into accountability for him.

There is no integrity there. No one should have had faith in anyone occupying an office where accountability was sacrificed, thus establishing the precedent that no matter what the president does he will be forgiven. As our children must learn that actions have consequences so must those who offer themselves for public service learn they will be accountable, liable, and that there are teeth in the oaths they take.

America needs honesty; Americans should demand accountability now as it should have been exacted in 1974. The example that any crime could be overlooked, swept under the carpet, has gone a long ways towards destroying what remained as the integrity of American government and ethics.

George W. Bush is guilty of collusion in deceiving the American people for the purpose of carrying out a war in Iraq and on Americans here at home. He carried out these crimes, for they are felonies, to profit those who put him in office, the major corporations who are profiting every day from the life's blood of honest Americans.

An Eagle Scout, Ford dishonored several oaths by failing to do the right thing. They should rescind his membership in that honorable body. That failure on Ford's part is a wrong that opened the flood gates of deception in politics because those in power know that accountability will not be exacted.

Americans must change their national direction. The first step in that direction is to demand and exact accountability from those in public office. Dishonesty must always result in removal and prosecution; justice must be swift, sure and exacting. The means are at our disposal. All professionals are licensed and most must be bonded. Begin demanding that only bonded candidates be elected. Don't wait for politicians to act; it will never happen. We, the people, can do it ourselves. The Honesty Bond Committee is now organizing.

The legacy of Gerald Ford was to compromise the foundations of American justice; we need to rebuild those foundations, placing them on the firm ground of accountability that ignores considerations of party and profit if America is to recover.

When you see the flag at half mast it is America for which you should grieve today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What James Dean taught me about Christmas

I last saw Jimmy though the front window of our home in West Los Angeles in September of 1955. He looked up and smiled at me, my nose pressed to the glass. In just a few days he would be dead but the ideas and conversations we had lived on in my memory. Eventually, those memories became a family tradition we call The Star for Christmas. It is a tradition that involves finding our way through life and doing the right thing as individuals. Jimmy was someone who thought intensely about who he was and what he should do.

All of my children grew to adulthood stuffing tiny folded and spindled letters of intention and wishes for the year to come into the musty interior of the Star that tops our Christmas Tree. Their tiny fingers were eager and trusting. Every Christmas Eve we gathered to read the last years letters and write anew. A generation of their wishes stretched both the Star’s stitches and the faded yellow felt I had cut it from so many years before. At the end of three decades the Star had become an object notable mostly for its ugliness but remained the most cherished decoration on our tree.

Now all the children have grown up, found their own homes and carried the tradition with them into new families and a new century. As their mother I was glad for that. But over the Thanksgiving table one year, lingering over seconds on everything, my youngest daughter asked me how the custom had begun. Was it a New England custom? Had I filled my own small white paper with intentions and wishes when I was little? Had I folded the paper up small and stuffed it into another older Star, perhaps made by my own mother? None of her friends followed the custom, she knew. No, I told her, I had not. The custom was my own, begun before she was born in honor of a friend who had died when I was just six years old. Then I told them about Jimmy and our conversations.

James Dean has been in his grave for nearly fifty years at that moment but I have never forgotten the many gifts he gave me. Christmas is about gifts of unexpected grace that make us stronger. Jimmy had shared his own wishes and intentions with me in those conversations; each insight was a gift I cherished. Since Christmas is about gifts I came to associate the holiday with him. The gifts that stay with us are not the kind normally found under any evergreen. But they were the kind of gifts that last long after toys are lost and forgotten.

Jimmy gave me gifts of insight; he shared his own confrontations with life. He told me once that in celebrating Christmas we need to remember that Christ was born to live a life that was itself a message. Reverence your life, Jimmy said, by living it honestly, with understanding, and courage.

Truth is where you find it.

Kneeling over the desiccated carcass of a tortoise that I discovered behind a bush in the backyard one golden afternoon Jimmy had explained to me about dying. I was only three then but I can hear his words as clearly as if he was standing here now. Jimmy’s voice told me he did not fear death. He explained that the essence of Tortoise did not die with its body but moved on to someplace else. Nothing really dies, he said. Jimmy accepted mortality as a part of life, believing that spirit would endure. This lesson was also taught by the Man whose birth we celebrate on December 25th.

That was the first lesson Jimmy taught me. Others followed.

Jimmy visited us sometimes in the afternoon, usually around lunchtime. This began, I think, when he was a student at UCLA. He wore thick glasses, just like me. He hunched his shoulders, just a little. He was quiet, sometimes pensive, and sometimes a little crazy. But he talked to me as if I were a grownup who could understand anything.

This taught me that I could do anything.

Over the next three years Jimmy taught me many more things. He taught me to listen to my heart beating as we sat quietly in the back yard. He said that I could hear my heartbeat and my breath as it moved through my throat and into my lungs if I listened and stilled the sounds outside myself. There was much in me to understand, he said. He had heard his own heart and breath and it taught him about himself; Listen to your self always, he said. Know yourself because you are here for a purpose and by listening you will learn that purpose. Jimmy believed he had a purpose and that his life’s work would have meaning. He would do wonderful things, he told me.

Jimmy did amazing things in a life that was far too short.

When I was much older I began attending Quaker Meeting; Jimmy had learned to hear the silence in a Quaker Meeting in Fairmount, Indiana. There, he had found what he needed to fill the emptiness left in the wake of his mother’s death. In the deep silence that healed grief, he had said to me, you touch your own soul and find your truth.

Jimmy taught me both to know myself and to trust myself.

I still have the old stuffed horse that Jimmy gave me when I broke both my arms. It is as dusty and as old as his memory is new. I have a tiny car, smaller than my then five-year-old finger that he flicked across the floor to me one afternoon just after he dropped by. He made the sound of a car, crying, Vroooom, vroooom, as it traveled like a shot into my hands. I carried it around in the pocket of my corduroy jumper for two weeks.

Insignificant material things may carry memories that can be far more precious than diamonds.

To the small child I was then the lessons of Jimmy were magic, magic that the older woman remembered when she placed a Star at the top of a Christmas Tree to carry the intentions of one year into the reality of the next. The ceremony, I told my children, was about gifts that do not fit under the tree, but that have great value.

After our family placed its new intentions in the Star the tradition was to light a candle for remembering and say a prayer. The small folded papers that the children filled up with words remained in the Star from one Christmas Eve until the next when they were taken out and read aloud, each by their author. Confronting yourself can also be a gift of unexpected value because in that you find new direction.

Saving those papers was part of the magic.

1979 Dawn (then four) - “I want to be an angel so I can turn Carolyn into a pumpkin.”

1984 Ayn (then eight) - “I wish that when I grow up I become a witch like Sam on Bewitched.”

1985 Dawn (then ten) - “I wish the Ethiopians stop starving by next year and it’s God damed pres. is assassinated.”

1985 Arthur (then six) - I want every single Transformer in the world.

1988 Dawn - I wish for the advancement of the human race through my genius. I also wish for the dissolution of all governments.

1992 Ayn (then sixteen)

1. To be brave enough to read this in front of the whole family.

2. to be a strong Christian.

3. to be happy at whichever school I go to.

4. that the family will be living anywhere but Burnet.

    5. World Peace (Somalia) NOT!

1993 Dawn (then eighteen) - I wish for whirled pease, Clinton to have been impeached for his various crimes, Hillary to be in prison - nah, she’d enjoy it too much ala “caged fury”

Because I was always involved in politics, first as a Republican, then a Libertarian, and then again as a Republican, what was happening in politics became part of our family culture, working its way into the Intentions we placed in the Star on Christmas Eve. Jimmy would have approved, he always said if you want it to happen you need to start walking in that direction; he was not happy with the direction politics was taking even then. Jimmy believed each of us have inherent freedoms government cannot touch and that the job of government was to protect those rights, not cancel them.

This Christmas Eve we will again gather around the Tree to read wishes and place next year's intentions in the Star. We will light the candle; we will pray for justice and a new direction for America. This year the wishes that go into the Star from our house will be for Impeachment. Doing the right thing matters; Jimmy would agree.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Republicans must speak out for Impeachment: Ron Paul for President

Buy Christmas Cards and gifts at our cafepress site!

The murmurs began in the halls of Congress even before legislators and their staffs packed up and left, marking the end of this Congress and the beginning of the holiday season. Those offices will be quiet for the moment; politicians considering how they can benefit from coming out on impeachment or confronting their now receding fears have time to caucus their home districts. The murmurs come in many different cadences and tones. They are marked with anger and elation, ambition and calculation.

Democrats are beginning to listen to the tenor of the country, slowly letting themselves realize just how many Americans view this administration, perhaps more than they did themselves, as a criminal enterprise. Impeachment is becoming a word that speaks not of sleaze and cigars but the promise of a new beginning and, perhaps more important to many of them, political positioning that could take a career all the way to the White House.

Real Republicans, those who watched the NeoCon Nazis smash every tenet on which the Republican Party was founded, also have time to think. Those invested in career quests for power will consider first how they are now viewed. Those Republicans who believe in the principles that made them Republicans must confront another issue. Their party was hijacked, its moral capital used to accrue profits for Bush and his corporate sponsors. In so doing, all Americans lost, some, their lives, others our wealth, and all of as us a sense of trust. Rhetoric replaced truth as the principles long associated with being a Republican were smashed beyond recognition. Small government, individual rights, Constitutional integrity, low taxes, local control, the principles of the Republican Party that those of us who believed the message of Barry Goldwater, stand in stark contrast to how this administration eviscerated the rights and honor with which it was entrusted.

Torture, deceit, spying on Americans, lies told to profit megacorporations and oil interests; before this Congress decamped, they took time to vote in ten billion in incentives for oil companies; nothing for veterans. There was seemingly no limit to what Bush and company would do to line their pockets and live out their fantasies. Sometimes doing the right thing forces us to confront our own souls. It should never have happened. It did. Now America needs justice so that healing can begin. You can bank of the fact that the NeoCons rely on spinning this as a partisan battle. That, Republicans must not allow.

This Republican says that time is now. While the murmurs continue advising that the now ham stringed administration be allowed to sputter into history this Republican says impeach and then indict.

America needs justice like a drowning man needs air. For that justice to be real we need to send a message to anyone who comes after that even for the president there will be absolute accountability. Without that there may be a pause in the growth of power that has taken America into the chilling realm of fascism but it will continue.

Republicans who care about the principles that made them Republicans need to shoot their own dog. That is what real men do. Rumor has it that mixed in with those murmurs in the halls of Congress were the voices of Republican Senators and Congressmen who are considering how the public now views the Republican Party. That this has been a public relations disaster is true; but that is a minor issue. Real men and women do the right thing even when it does not provide better political positioning. In the last two years the Republican Party has lost registrants, respect, credibility, and now teeters on the edge of oblivion. That was just, people were speaking with their hearts and feet. It would be better that the Republican Party cease to exist than that it remain the tool it became. Political parties are the tools we use to move our country towards freedom and justice. They should not be used to steal. Political parties are just tools.

The point of the American Experiment is that people, understanding that their rights come not from government but from God, come together to govern themselves from their own communities.

Republicans must therefore shoot their own dog. It was not a Democrat who delivered the message to Richard Nixon, it was the man that both sides of the Aisle knew would tell the truth. That man was Barry Goldwater. But what Nixon did was a cigar to what Bush has done. This message must come with the hard truth that resigning is not enough. This time we need real, systemic change so that never again will the simple tools of government be used to anoint would-be dictators.

That process must begin with unified efforts from both sides of the aisle.

This impeachment must not be tainted with politics. It is about the survival of America and the vision of possibility that summoned a nation of free people into being.

Cheney must be impeached and replaced with a man of unquestionable integrity, respected by both Republicans and Democrats. That man is Congressman Ron Paul.

Congressman Paul is a man who had the moral integrity to do the right thing when the days were darkest. Paul has withstood the attempts by NeoCons to unseat him many times by redistricting, through Tom Delay, and by funding his opposition. But his constituents know he is to be trusted and have returned the family doctor to office over and over again. He refused to be silenced.

Democrats who have followed the machinations of the NeoCons know Ron Paul is a man who stood up against the War in Iraq, against the Patriot Act, and against torture.

The names championed by the Democrats speak partisanship; none of them spoke out in those darkest days. Paul has demonstrated an ability to work with anyone who is working for the rights of Americans. He understands the Constitution and no one deceived him when the cries of necessity went up after 9/11.

The present sentiment for impeachment could tear America apart – or it could bring us together to start again. America's President is both the CEO of the executive branch and a symbol of forward direction. Ron Paul as President sends a message no one will misunderstand. When he is in office, let Paul choose Dennis Kucinich as his Vice-President.

Impeach Cheney and then Bush and then let Congress put a man in the Oval Office who said yes to honor and truth when doing so made him so often stand alone. It is alone we enter life and alone we die. Those who stand alone when others are silent through fear have passed through a tempering that burns out doubt. We need an individual who has passed through that fire.

Send a message America, and the world, will really hear.